About the Niantic Lightship & Digital Catapult Augmented Reality Accelerator

Niantic Labs, leading mobile games creators, have recently launched a new tool to build augmented reality (AR) experiences. Digital Catapult is teaming up with Niantic to deliver the Lightship Augmented Reality Developer Kit (ARDK) to immersive organisations in the UK. The toolkit lowers the barriers to entry for developers to create immersive augmented reality experiences and enables developers to bring virtual content into the real world. 

The Digital Catapult and Niantic Lightship Augmented Reality Accelerator is looking for immersive developers to come up with creative concepts that solve the challenges set out by our industry partners.

The three individual challenges set by industry partners; Studio Wayne McGregor, Cartoon Network and Niantic, are looking for developers to create pitches that bring people together and enhance real-world experiences. Digital Catapult will deliver Niantic’s Lightship ARDK alongside up to £100,000 funding to the organisations with the most creative ideas. 

The pitches should include an idea for a concept that uses the segmented semantics, mapping, and multiplayer capabilities of the Lightship Platform to create an AR experience. 

The best ideas will be selected to take place in a pitching competition, after the pitching competition the three concepts that best respond to the industry challenges will be awarded up to £100,000 and technical support to develop a demonstrator on Niantic’s Lightship Platform. See below for more details about the industry-specific challenges.

Applications close in:

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Why get involved?

While other conceptions of the metaverse bring people into an online world, Niantic’s Lightship ARDK is using technology to bring people together outside, encouraging real-world connection rather than isolation. The AR accelerator programme launched by Niantic and Digital Catapult will not only encourage greater human connection but support UK startups to grow and develop new cutting-edge AR applications. 

The organisations selected to participate in the programme will receive both technical expertise and business support from Digital Catapult and Niantic. The most creative pitches will receive up to £100,000 in funding to build their concept using the Lightship Augmented Reality Developer Kit.

What challenges is the programme looking to solve?

The Niantic Lightship Accelerator Programme will be selecting one organisation per challenge to build their concept. The selected organisation will work with technical experts at Niantic and Digital Catapult as well as the industry partners to bring the concept to life. See more about each industry partner and the challenges they’ve set below.

  • Retail & the Future of the High Street Challenge

    Bringing people outside and back to the high street is a priority for cities across the UK. With the pandemic drastically shifting the retail landscape, it’s important to think about the role technology can play in increasing foot traffic to brick and mortar businesses and leisure activities.

    Niantic is looking for creative ideas that support local businesses, create new ways of engaging consumers and bring communities together, with a focus on getting people outside and back to their city centres.

    The Niantic challenge is looking for Augmented Reality experiences that allow users to explore their community – encouraging people to engage with the local high street, independent retailers, and neighbourhood activities. 

    The growth of new opportunities in AR in retail is expected to grow exponentially in the next decade. 100 million customers already use some form of AR online and in-stores, which presents a huge opportunity for the Lightship ARDK to bring new interactive storytelling experiences to life.

    The concept for this challenge should find an interactive way to increase community engagement and get people excited about experiencing more local areas like high streets, cultural sites and hidden gems.

  • Studio Wayne McGregor Challenge

    Studio Wayne McGregor is looking to turn basic movement competencies into innovation beyond the confines of the dance world and provide everyone with tools to tap into their innate creativity in a shared experience. Building on Wayne McGregor’s inquiry into physical intelligence, we want to create a game that is fun, surprising, immediate, yet beautiful.

    This challenge is looking to empower users’ self-expression through movement. The concept for Studio Wayne McGregor should use the Lightship platform to encourage players to move through urban environments – using key elements of dance, like timing, control, balance, coordination and proprioception.  

    This game experience challenges users to make, co-create, and share 2D and 3D atoms. Users will be able to interact with other players using kinetic tags placed in our everyday environment and create a new shape-shifting movement diorama in Augmented Reality, made directly from each of our own unique physical autographs.

    In this challenge we are looking to answer some of the following questions: 

    • How do we distribute atoms of a ‘dance’ across the city? 
    • How do we collect the 2D atoms and compose them in 3D to activate the ‘dance’?
    • How can core skills in dance making be used to frame the kinetic games?
    • How do we move between aesthetics to a fully rendered beauty?
    • How do we use the kinetic properties of the phone to prime movement?

    For more information about Studio Wayne McGregor and their inquiry into physical intelligence please see BBC Imagine….Wayne McGregor, Wayne’s TED Talk and an accompanying article Tips for Thinking Like a Dancer

    Areas of Interest 

    • Movement & dance 
    • Blending the urban environment with augmented reality
    • Encouraging collaboration through 2D & 3D creations
  • Cartoon Network Challenge

    Cartoon Networks mobile football game Toon Cup debuted during the 2018 World Cup – the app has amassed more than 72.5  million downloads. The game allows users to choose their country then shoot, tackle and score their way to the top of the leaderboard! Kids can create a team using characters from their favourite Cartoon Network shows including Teen Titans GO!, The Power Puff Girls and We Bare Bears. Cartoon Network is looking to leverage Augmented Reality to extend the Toon Cup Universe.

    The Cartoon Network challenge is looking for concepts that use the Lightship platform to extend the Toon Cup universe and create content and experiences that push the games narratives, characters and experiences into the outdoor world. The idea will use Toon Cup characters to connect our audiences to real world events.  

    The aspiration for the app demonstrator includes the scope and energy of Toon Cup and Space Jam combined, created with the Cartoon Network manifesto in mind: 

    • We are funny 
    • We celebrate unfiltered realness 
    • We are uniquely Cartoon Network 
    • Everything a kid does (big or small), changes the world for the better!

    The demonstrator should: 

    • Be a fun, delightful and engaging experience for kids aged 7-10 
    • Be an accessible and safe experience for kids 
    • Increase brand awareness for Cartoon Network and their IP 
    • Enhance the Toon Cup interactive experience 

    Areas of Interest

    • Creating content for an audience aged 7-10 
    • Bringing fictional characters into the real world 
    • Blending sports with augmented reality 

    The ToonCup app is available for download on Android & iOS 

Who should apply?

This accelerator programme is looking for applications from startups, scaleups, creative studios and developers who: 

Are currently working within the immersive experience or augmented reality space

Are interested in or are already developing new augmented reality solutions and applications

Are able to present concepts that inspire movement, exploration, and shared experiences

Have the necessary skills required for their proposed project. Organisations will nominate someone with a technical background who will be interacting with a technologist throughout the programme

Are committed to demonstrating the segmented semantics, mapping, and multiplayer elements of the experience to the public. Companies will be involved in a showcase event at the end of the programme

How to Apply

  1. To apply, each applicant will need to register their interest using our registration form.
  2. Applicants will receive a follow-up email with a link to the application form through Submittable.
  3. Applicant teams will need to complete the application form by 23:59 on 19 June 2022 to be considered for the programme.

If you have any questions about the programme, application process, or challenge briefs please get in touch with [email protected]

Briefing Video

To find out more about the challenges and hear more from the industry partners about what they are looking to get from the concept pitches watch the briefing video here.

Frequently Asked Questions

The FAQs should answer any questions you have about the programme, from the application process to what will be required of you as participants. If you have a question that is not covered by our FAQs please send an email to [email protected] and we will get back to you with a response.

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